Monday 26 March 2012

I'm going nuts........

Good afternoon everyone.... Did you have a good lunch? I haven't had mine yet. Catching my breath as I just came home after spending half the day at the Singapore Zoo as a parent volunteer to accompany Maisur's class. As expected, we walked a lot & the humid weather didn't help. One student expressed her wish that there are 3 seasons in Singapore & that there is no summer .....

I told you that I baked 2 cookies on Saturday. The second was another nut cookie, & this time it's Hazelnut Shortbread. I made just a slight change to the recipe by Linda. My dough was quite sticky so I added some 15g of flour. I flattened the balls of dough into flat round cookies & stuck whole hazelnut on each of them using some egg white. After baking, I thought the cookies looked pale, so I decided to pipe chocolate on them. Only just now I realised that I was supposed to toss them in icing sugar! No wonder.... It certainly tasted much better with the icing sugar. Even then, next time,  I would add a bit more salt to the dough... a pinch is just too little.

..... so the pictures you see hear are the ones without the coat of icing sugar as they were taken yesterday.

Recipe from Linda's Kitchen Lab.

65 unsalted butter*
15 g icing (confectioners) sugar
45 g hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed and roughly chopped
75 g plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted - I used 90g
Pinch of salt
Pinch of baking powder
Sifted icing (confectioners) sugar to toss
* Use the best quality European (or European style) unsalted butter you can find or afford.
  1. In a medium sized bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the nuts and stir. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to incorporate.
  3. Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F.
  4. Take 1 T of the cookie mix, roll into a ball and slightly flatten onto a parchment lined baking tray. Repeat until all of the dough has been used up.
  5. Bake the cookies in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes. Carefully transfer each cookie using a large spatula onto a wire rack until fully cool.
  6. Once fully cool, toss in icing (confectioners) sugar and set aside. 

Sunday 25 March 2012

Fruitful weekend.....

I'm happy because the weekend was quite a fruitful one for me. Yesterday, besides doing the usual Saturday routine, I also baked 2 types of cookies & went shopping at Arab Street! Hmm.... no wonder I'm happy, I did my two favourite activities...haha... Actually, the shopping was for my girls. They needed to get a few pieces of fabric for their traditional costumes, so naturally for us, the place to go is Arab Street, the fabric haven of Singapore!  The last time they had new Malay costumes was two years ago. So it's high time for new additions since there're a couple of weddings to attend & besides, we'll also be celebrating Hari Raya in less than 5 months!

The past few weeks, for some reasons, I've been thinking of making  shortbread  & peanut cookies, although I'm not a big fan of peanut cookies. So I googled for a recipe & decided to bake Peanut Butter Shortbread by Eileen. Mixed the dough & baked the cookies yesterday & this morning, did the dipping & sprinkling.

The shortbread was delicious. They looked great too... the only problem is the chocolate coating was still slightly wet & sticky even after a few hours. Maybe the recipe Eileen used for the chocolate topping is not suitable for our humid climate.... Eileen also used Fleur de Sel to sprinkle on top but I used sea salt from Australia....haha. I also sprinkled chopped peanuts..

Peanut Butter Shortbread with Salted Chocolate
Source: Living Tastefully

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt 
  1. Beat together the butter and peanut butter with mixer at medium speed until smooth. ( I used hand whisk.) Gradually add sugar, beating well. Stir in the vanilla.
  2. Combine the flour and salt. Gradually add to the butter mixture, beating at low speed until blended.
  3. Divide the dough in half and place each half onto a piece of plastic wrap. Roll into two logs, wrap in the plastic and refrigerate until firm. (I formed dough into balls, each weighing 10g, place them on a cookie sheet & pressed them with a folk, one at a time.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 275˚F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator and slice the logs 3/8-inch thick. Place each slice onto cookie sheet leaving a 1-inch space between each cookie. Place one baking sheet in the middle of the oven and the other baking sheet on the rack directly below. Bake the cookies for 40 minutes or until the cookies are nicely browned, switching the baking sheets after 20 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.
4 ounces good quality chocolate- milk, semi-sweet, or bittersweet
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus additional butter if needed to thin chocolate
Fleur de Sel, for sprinkling
Chopped roasted peanut (I added.)

When the cookies have cooled, melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Add butter until the chocolate is a good consistency for dipping. Dip half of each cookie into the melted chocolate and place on a parchment-lined sheet. Sprinkle chocolate immediately with a few grains of Fleur de Sel.

Thursday 22 March 2012

I'm back.....

It's been a month since my last entry, the longest break I've had from blogging....  Since the beginning of the year, I had come home from work feeling physically & mentally exhausted  everyday, including weekends. The amount of work was just overwhelming..... definitely not what I signed up for! So I followed my heart & called it a quit. Of course not without expressing  my unhappiness to the respective parties! And their response to my complaints was an insult to my intelligence!!!  I strongly believe things always happen for good reasons & this episode is no exception. What's important is I have no regrets with my decision & I'm so much happier now..... although I'm now unemployed! Haha!

Although I've not been updating my blog, I'd actually managed to bake a couple of times & took pictures of them but had refrained myself from rambling in this blog because I knew if I had written something then, my tone would definitely be very negative as I was also feeling angry, resentful & hurt. But I'm feeling much better now so, I'm back......!

Last Saturday my colleagues (now ex-colleagues) & I gathered for a bbq. As usual, dessert is my specialisation so I made crumb topped banana muffins & longan jelly. I chose to make them because they are quite easy to make & the ladies loved them!

Crumb Topped Banana Muffins

1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt ( I didn't use.)
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
¾ cup sugar
1 eggs, lightly beaten
1⁄3; cup butter, melted

1⁄3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1⁄8 teaspoon cinnamon, to taste
1 tablespoon cold butter
¼ cup nuts , chopped (optional) - I used walnuts

  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix banana, sugar, egg and melted butter.
  3. Stir into dry mixture just until moistened.
  4. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.
  5. Combine brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon topping ingredients.
  6. Cut in cold butter until crumbly.
  7. Sprinkle over muffins.
  8. Bake at 190 degrees C for about 20 minutes, until muffins test done.
  9. Cool in pan for 10 minutes.
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